Friday, March 16, 2012

I Built My Own Yarn Swift!

A few days ago I saw a tutorial on FB on how to make your own diaper sprayer for rinsing cloth diapers. While I was excited about this project, I remembered another DIY project I had been wanting to do. This DIY yarn swift tutorial has been bookmarked on my computer for months, but I kept putting it off. For one thing, in the house we are in right now, there is no workshop and all of our tools are stored in a small, spidery storage closet that is not pleasant for me to access. I had actually found a swift on Etsy that is nearly the same price as what I paid for materials (before shipping). My father-in-law had almost convinced me to just fork over the $30 for the premade one, but I guess I was feeling like a challenge.

I had priced materials at two hardware stores and found that Lowe's had the best prices for what I needed. Yesterday I went with list in hand to buy my bits of lumber and hardware. While there, we also picked up some wood to build my middle son a Lego Minifigure display shelf (more on that one another time).

These pieces of wood are actually for MS's project.
As soon as we got home, and got little one down for naptime, MS (as my middle son will be known) helped me overcome the spiderwebs and haul out the portable work table. We dug through the tool boxes and found the few things I needed as well as my handy dandy Black and Decker cordless drill with jigsaw, circular saw, sander and router attachments. It might have been the best Christmas present I ever got! Yes I said I, and I did ask for it. I've had it for years, and despite being dropped and some of the attachments being a little warped from being dropped, it's the best little tool a gal could have.

At any rate, I didn't have a hand saw to notch out the cross bars, so I figured out how to do it with my circular saw. I was pretty proud of myself and the nice tight fit I got, until I tried to even things up to perfection and nearly ruined it. The result was that instead of having a portable swift that comes apart, my crossbars are shimmied and glued together. I will remember this boo-boo before making one for my mom. I could have just bought 2 new pieces of wood and started again, but the notching out part was the most time consuming of the entire project.

I had quite a few 3/8" holes to drill out and a very dull drill bit. Instead of waiting and getting a new bit, I tried to make the best of it and almost ruined the arms with off-center dowel holes. They are a little wronky, but not unusable. The hubs came home, saw my dilemma, went out and bought a whole new set of drill bits--drilled through that poplar like butter!

Finally I am ready to assemble it. Low and behold, I have brought home the wrong size dowel for my pegs, AND the hex screw is the wrong type. This is the only thing I found vague about this tutorial. In the list of materials, it tells the size of hex screw, but not that it should be threaded all the way down. I don't know what those are called, and my hardware store didn't have any. Today I went back to the hardware store for a new dowel and hex screw.  Because they didn't have the screw I needed, I substituted a screw with no ends and added a stopper bolt (?). I was totally winging it because I don't know the real uses for any of this hardware!

Does it work? It does! Was it worth it to make my own? Well, what makes it worth it? Saving money? The experience? The gratification of completing a project? For me, today, it was worth it. The cost for the actual wood and hardware was just a smidge under $15--not bad. I also had to purchase a woodfile/chisel (which was a fun little tool) which ran me $8, and today I picked up more sandpaper for $5.

Just something funny my son did!

Now I just need a ball winder to really get the benefit of my yarn swift. No, I will not be engineering a ball-winder, and yes I have seen the DIY ones on You-Tube. For now I will continue to use a wooden spoon as a nostepinne, and my swift is far better than the back of a chair!

I should mention that I made version 1 from the tutorial. Also, I could not find 6' long 1x1's anywhere, but was able to use two 3' 1x1's. Also, I used an oak dowel for my yarn pegs because it was much less flexible than the others available, which I assume were pine.


  1. Wow this is so neat!! Would love to have one of these to give to a dear friend of mine!!!

  2. It's great after using the back of a chair all these months! Did you see the link in the post to the ones on Etsy? They are the best prices I've seen for this kind of swift.

  3. I really like your discussion of what makes a diy project worth it. I love to learn how to do new things, so I often find myself doing projects that many people would say are not worth it. Sometimes, it just feels good.

  4. Thanks!! This would come in so handy.